As Parliament resumes this week after a long, angry summer, the Government must demonstrate it has fully grasped the lessons of this horrific bushfire season and embrace this opportunity to take urgent action to tackle the climate crisis, Oxfam Australia said today.
Oxfam Chief Executive Lyn Morgain said the organisation had been shocked and deeply saddened by the catastrophic bushfires and the unfathomable toll they had taken on our communities and ecosystems.
“Along with the whole international development sector, we are determined to do our part to ensure Australia emerges from this crisis as a stronger and fairer nation, committed to taking serious action to tackle the worsening climate crisis and protect the lives and prospects of people everywhere,” Ms Morgain said.
“In spite of the scientific evidence and the extreme weather we’re living through – bushfires, hail storms and drought – the Government still hasn’t joined the dots and taken action to tackle the root causes of the crisis.
“Nobody wants the weather we experienced this summer to become even worse. If we have any chance of avoiding smoke-filled, fire ravaged summers, Australia’s policies must dramatically strengthen our emissions reduction targets and move beyond fossil fuels. The Government’s narrow-minded focus on adaptation and resilience simply, does not go far enough.
“Right now, Australia could wield great authority and leverage globally. If we led by example and immediately strengthened our own emissions reduction commitments, and if we linked our own crisis with those escalating around the world, we could be a great catalyst for stronger international action.
“Of course, we need to invest more in climate change adaptation and resilience. That is true for communities around the globe. But to focus on that alone, while ignoring the root causes of this crisis, is to send us barrelling towards further destruction.”
“Put simply, if all countries were to follow Australia’s current actions, we would be heading for over 3°C of global warming – a level to which it will be impossible to adapt and which would cause unimaginable suffering for Australians and people everywhere.”
Ms Morgain said for decades, Oxfam had witnessed the crushing impacts of climate change on communities around the world, from stronger cyclones devastating our Pacific neighbours, to ongoing food crises in the Sahel and Horn regions of Africa. But never before had the realities of the climate crisis struck so close to home.
“Whether in Tuvalu or Mallacoota, we are all in this together,” Ms Morgain said. “As Parliament resumes, the message is loud and clear: At a minimum, we must immediately strengthen our commitments to the Paris Agreement, in line with limiting warming to 1.5°C. And we must get Australia on the path to zero emissions well before mid-century, including shifting to 100 percent renewable energy and exports by 2030.”
“As Professor Ross Garnaut has argued, with our immense untapped potential for clean energy, Australia is exceptionally well placed to help the drive the energy transition globally and benefit from the jobs and economic growth this transition offers.
“To merely double down on our existing and woefully inadequate actions, and to play down our ability to be a force for good globally, would be an historic act of recklessness that shows extraordinary disregard for the trauma Australia has suffered, and the pleas from across the community for leadership and action.”